If you feel that the Auckland dining scene has become rather monotonous lately, Vodka Room is the place to be. Located in the heart of Ponsonby, this Russian-inspired venue (obviously because, vodka) makes a statement with its bold and slightly eccentric decor. The gilted gold chandeliers with mismatched, plush velvet chairs is a perfect reminiscence of the boisterous and patriotic nature of the country, and a few swigs of the extensive vodka list will no doubt be able to fully transport your imagination there.
The many dining areas make it a versatile choice for functions- the outdoor courtyard provides a sunny yet glass-sheltered daytime dining space while the inside exudes a more sumptuous and opulent affair. We were invited to peruse and ogle at the upstairs private function/ dining and karaoke rooms- which may I add includes an extremely important “Press for Vodka” button on the wall.
Of course, it would have been sacrilege to not indulge in their namesake. A cocktail was chosen with the helpful tips of the staff and it was a light way to ease into the afternoon. Why hello there, daytime drinking.
While it was already on my to-go list, the main purpose of my visit that day was due to an invitation to try their new Rush In Lunch Boards ($20.00). There are three choices to choose from, all served with Russian antipasti and fresh bread. We opted for the Five Mushroom Stroganov- potato gnocchi, baby onions, sour cream.
The mushrooms were plump and hearty and the gnocchi rich and buttery. As expected of this cuisine, vegetarians need not fear being served something unfulfilling.
The above photo would give a more concise breakdown of the antipasti options. From left to right: kimchi, housemade pickles, salo (a low-meat high-fat bacon), buckwheat salad (behind), goats cheese, ikra, and fresh bread with cultured butter.
Our second lunch board of choice was the Kotleta- flaked market fish & scallop kotleta, appel sorrel, sweet mustard.
No doubt many of the menu items may sound unfamiliar as Russian cuisine is not as popular in this country. Kotleta is a pan-fried minced meat dish that contains onions, garlic and various herbs(basically just a fish cake).
I enjoyed the ikra aka poor man’s caviar the most (pictured far left). The sweet and smoky eggplant melded with the tender sauteed onions and umami tomatoes, and was addictively delicious when piled high on the warm, toasty bread.
Of course, I could not resist the Caviar- cured king salmon roe (50g), black bread, and butter ($19.00)
Served on a striking black granite bowl of ice, these little pearls were resplendent in vibrancy and colour. I found it extremely salty and rather mushy compared to the fresh and delicate Japanese versions however.
A few components were heavy handed on the salt but we enjoyed the majority of all the platter offerings and were absolutely stuffed after this extravaganza of a feast. Another huge thank you to Vodka Room for this kind invitation (all thoughts still remain my own). Be sure to rally up a group of comrades to make the most of the extensive menu options, and prepare yourself for a unique foray into a culture of good food and of course, good drinks.
Vodka Room | 5 Rose Road, Ponsonby | www.vodkaroom.co.nz